Alumnus Abdalla Straker Speaks at Culminating Fall 2010 Executive Speaker Series

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Abdalla StrakerSC State University will hold its final Executive Speaker Series (ESS) for the Fall 2010 semester on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 at noon in the Belcher Hall fourth floor auditorium. The culminating ESS session will be conducted by Abdalla Straker, SC State alumnus, ‘09, and strategy analyst for the Retirement and Philanthropic Services (RPS) group for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Reflecting on the program’s success for fall 2010, ESS program director, Dr. Ann Winstead, says, “the companies and speakers represented a range of professions and a variety of business disciplines offered in the curriculum of the Business Program, such as marketing, management, finance, economics and entrepreneurship. Companies such as Boeing and BMW are two of the potentially largest employers in the state,” notes Winstead.  “With Boeing expected to transform the Lowcountry, and BMW doing the same in the Upstate, students preparing to enter a global business world benefited immensely from hearing perspectives of these corporate giants,” she says.

Not only has the series left an indelible mark and proved to be beneficial for SC State business students, but  it has captured the interest of younger audiences as well.  Close to 25 juniors and seniors at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technology Center will visit SC State University as Straker speaks on the topic:  My First Year on Wall Street.”

“We are excited about exposing our students to the college environment, allowing them to learn how students and executives conduct themselves in the business sector,” said Arlene Gidron, chair of the Business and Marketing Department at the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technology Center. “My students are eager to hear Mr. Straker’s presentation as he most likely started out just like they are- taking business courses in high school, then matriculating to college. He kept striving and persevering and has a successful career.  This can be an easy path for them to take in whichever career they may choose,” she added.

As strategy analyst for the RPS group, Straker develops financial models for the business, provides key reporting and analysis to senior members within the group, and provides strategic guidance for product creations, innovation, development and marketing. Upon graduating from SC State University, Straker spent his first year as an investment banking analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York, N.Y. As an investment analyst, he developed financial models and company valuations, using varying methodologies, including pro-forma merger analysis and discounted cash flow valuation.  He also provided daily sector updates and weekly comparable company analysis for deal teams to utilize, in addition to preparing pitch books and assisting with diligent transactions.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Straker came to the United States in 2005 to study at SC State University. He graduated in 2009 (Summa Cum Laude) with a degree in business economics. While at SC State, he significantly contributed to student life in a number of ways. Some of the positions he held include editor/writer for The Collegian newspaper, president of The Impact Movement, a Christian organization, president of the International Students Association, member of the Literary Journal, the Golden Key International Honour Society and the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society.

Straker also received a number of awards while at SC State.  In 2006 and 2007, he was named Poet Laureate in which he was officially appointed to compose poems for state occasions and other government events. In 2008, he was awarded the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Emerging Leader Award, and in 2009, he was the recipient of the Rising Star of SC State University Award. He is also an alumnus of Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, a minority program that assists college and high school students with achieving their academic and career goals.

Straker has published three books to date: “Letters to the Lord,” “I Was Made” and “From the Heart.” He has written articles for How We Live magazine in Columbia, S.C. and Stated magazine at SC State University. He has also contributed to several other works, including “Inwell,” the poetry compilation of SC State, and “Esprit Love” by Keisha Esprit. He has been a guest speaker and poet at several high school, college and church events.

Straker assists with the Youth Ministry at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack, N.J.  He currently resides in Little Ferry, N.J. with his wife, Shenille, an alumna of SC State University.